The Osprey really is a transformer in more ways than one. It may dazzle at air shows by being able to land and take off like a helicopter and cruise like a turboprop fixed wing plane, but folding and unfolding for storage is the real show stopper.

Seeing an aircraft’s entire wing, engine nacelles, flaps and even the propellers swivel and fold may seem insane in its complexity, but really it’s not. The V-22 was built for the USMC primarily and as such it has to be easily stored in a similar footprint as its tandem-rotor predecessor, the CH-46 Phrog. As such, the half plane, half helicopter has to turn into a very tight package at the push of a button.

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The truth is, the MV-22 is a more inefficient and complex machine than it would need to be if it didn’t have to operate off of amphibious assault ships.

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Even the aircraft’s propellers are not nearly as efficient as the could be because of the space limitations associated with operating aboard an Landing Helicopter Dock or other class of amphibious assault ship. This is something Bell wants to make right with its V-280 Valor envisioned for the U.S. Army.

Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.

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